Sunday, October 16, 2011

There's No Place Like "Om"

Yoga is more than a trendy way to stay fit; it’s a mind-body tradition rooted in centuries of history. Whether you’re looking for a place to unwind, a workout that will leave you soaked in sweat or just a reminder to breathe when life gets overwhelming, there’s a yoga studio in the Twin Cities to meet your needs. I checked out the hottest (and I don’t just mean popular!) local venues for pretzel people of all persuasions. Minnesotans, it’s time to come "om."


BODYFLOW™ is a combination of yoga, tai chi and pilates that focuses on incorporating mind, body and spirit. Consisting of 10 pre-choreographed tracks of popular tunes (which rotate every three months), BODYFLOW™ is more than a traditional asana class; it’s a workout that starts with a gentle warm up, moves into sun salutations, then builds flexibility and strength with exercises focusing on hips, abs, back and hamstrings. Balance, twists and brief meditation are also included in the 50-minute routine.

BODYFLOW™ is offered at all Twin Cities YMCA locations, meaning you can usually find a class that fits your schedule any day of the week. The convenience factor is the major draw here, as is the competition-free setting. This is a great introduction to mind-body exercise for the yoga-phobic, though instructors also offer options for more advanced students as well as those with injuries. The student body leans toward the mildly fit, mostly female, 30-and-up crowd, so leave your self-consciousness at the door and just enjoy.


Hardcore yogis, this is your haven. Featuring challenging classes that combine music, movement and high temps, CorePower is where the pretzel people go when they want to sweat. Try your hand at Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, Hot Power Fusion, Yoga Sculpt (a Vinyasa flow class combined with weights) or CoreRestore (a restorative practice). All classes are taught by certified instructors and include a variety of asanas. As one of the largest networks of yoga studios in the United States, CorePower also offers Teacher Training and wellness programs. Experienced yogis will appreciate the spa-like environment without the oversized price tag.


One Yoga is a non-profit organization that aims to bring the healing powers of asana to those experiencing financial hardship. One Yoga also partners with government organizations and other non-profits as part of their Outreach Program which provides on-site yoga classes to clients, employees and volunteers of those organizations.

Drop-in classes are held for all levels of students and in several styles including Ashtanga, Chanting, Hatha, Mysore, Restorative, Vinyasa, Yin and Yoga Nidra. Upcoming workshops will feature a week-long Total Detox Intensive, Spark Your Intuition, Laughter Yoga and Therapeutic Yoga for Neck and Shoulders.

Prospective students are encouraged to complete a sliding fee application (available at the studio or online) which will be approved depending on household size and income.

One Yoga partners with other nonprofit and government organizations to provide weekly on-site yoga classes to their clients, volunteers, and employees. To learn more about our Outreach Program or to find out how you can help, click here.


Aerial yoga takes everything you know about asana and flips it on its head. Becky Stella, one of the first instructors to offer Aerial Yoga in the Twin Cities, creates a calm, nurturing environment for students to explore the initial, often frightening, experience of being airborne and upside down. Once you get over the awkwardness of binding your limbs in sashes that hang from the ceiling, you’ll fall head over heels for the refreshing sensation of lightness that aerial yoga allows. Because the joints are relieved of weight-bearing, students find themselves able to fully embody the poses and reach a deeper stretch. Stella currently teaches at Yoga Center Minneapolis. More information is available on the Aerial Yoga MN website.


Tucked cozily on the border between Minneapolis and Edina, Yoga House specializes in Ashtanga ("a precise sequence of postures with a controlled breathing technique") and MySore (characterized by a silent sequence of poses that are tailored to the practitioner’s need) styles of yoga.

Chris Balser, who will teach Intro to Ashtanga on Sundays this winter, describes Yoga House’s philosophy as "finding the posture based on individual needs, not book-based aesthetics. We embrace the beauty in a person's expression of that posture, rather than his/her flexibility."

Emphasis is placed on the sensation (or, in yoga speak, "vibrations") of the experience rather than whether or not you can touch the floor in Triangle or find lift-off in Crane Pose.

Because the Ashtanga method is most effective when practiced daily, students are encouraged to make a commitment to attend class at least three times a week.


If you’re a yogini eating for two, this is your studio! Blooma specializes in yoga for women and families with prenatal and postnatal yoga classes as well as workshops tailored for new moms, like the Kundalini based “Rebuilding After Birth” class. Blooma is also one of the few studios in the Twin Cities that offers childcare (for a small fee). With locations on both sides of the river as well as in St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee, classes are convenient and spaces can be reserved online. Even if you’re not a parent, visit Blooma’s website for information on their prenatal DVD, massage services and gift cards; finally, a baby shower present that the mom-to-be in your life will appreciate!


Because yoga is as much about the mind as the body, many studios feature wellness services in addition to asana. Devandi Yoga, founded by Tanya Sowards, has some of the most diverse mind-body offerings in the Twin Cities. Whether you want to readjust your aura in a 50-minute Energy Work session, iron out a kink through Thai Massage or re-evaluate your eating habits in an Ayurveda consultation, Devandi Yoga has you covered.

These alternative therapies can help those suffering from chronic pain or injuries, ease psychological issues such as anxiety and depression or simply provide much-needed down time for the over-stressed among us. Tanya’s down-to-Earth demeanor instantly puts clients at ease and the studio’s Linden Hills location is blissfully beautiful.

Another tidbit that makes this studio unique: Tanya’s husband, Jason Sowards, is the owner of Harriet Brewing Company and Devandi Yoga has been to known to host "Yogi Pint Nights" in the past.

Published on Metromix Twin Cities in Oct. 2011.